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Dubois Article

CaptHowdy00

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The clock is ticking on PL Dubois to make an impact for the L.A. KingsThe clock is ticking on PL Dubois to make an impact for the L.A. Kings
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The sight of PL Dubois going through another game without a noticeable impact must eat away at Los Angeles Kings general manager Rob Blake and team president Luc Robitaille, especially with so much more on the line now.

It’s got to. If it isn’t for the two members of the Hockey Hall of Fame and the organization’s biggest decision makers as to what’s occurring on the ice, then there is a colossal problem that’s larger than their major acquisition last summer.

The one that’s called “PL” by his preference and those around him is an XL issue for the Kings. It has been that way in his huge disappointment of a season and it is painfully so when the playoffs are one of the chief reasons why he was he was brought to L.A. for three roster players, two of whom might have made the gap between them and the Edmonton Oilers not as wide now.

The reason the Kings are down 2-1 in the first-round series after a 6-1 thrashing — the second such one-sided affair — isn’t all on Dubois. Their special teams are a disaster, they’ve got no answer for Zach Hyman down low, are struggling to rein in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and they may need to look at a change in net after Cam Talbot was blitzed for the second time in three games.

But the spot where they should have a decisive advantage over the Oilers is the third line. It is what Dubois is centering and he’s got Kevin Fiala on his wing and a rotating cast on the opposite side. The 25-year-old pivot has a massive eight-year, $68-million contract to give the Kings a high-quality forward for the long haul and give them enviable depth in the middle for the immediate term.

In three games so far, Dubois has an inconsequential Game 1 goal scored late in a 7-4 dusting by Edmonton. And Fiala, their $55-million bauble bought from Minnesota two summers ago, isn’t feasting beside him. He had a go-ahead goal in Game 2 but has been mostly quiet otherwise.

That is hardly enough when they’ve got a matchup of Ryan McLeod and Corey Perry while their top two lines are having their hands full with McDavid and Draisaitl. Anže Kopitar and Phillip Danault have been about as successful as Carl Denham was keeping King Kong in chains on Broadway. But those two should free up Dubois to do damage against a lesser McLeod and a 38-year-old not-so-vintage Perry.

Should is the word that hasn’t been operative in this case.

“Our line and Phil’s line, we have to play those guys and we have to play them well,” said Adrian Kempe, who has taken one-off shifts with Dubois and Fiala apart from his usual top-line duty. “Obviously can’t let them score three, four goals because then it’s probably going to be a tough night for us. That comes first-hand. We have to think about being on the right side of those guys.

“But obviously for PL and Kevin and those guys, I think they’re really talented players. … They can make a huge impact.”

In Game 3, Fiala played more than any Kings forward and had three shots on goal in his 18:44 of ice time. Dubois did not put one of his two attempts on net in 14:08. Neither plays on the penalty kill, but Fiala is a featured part of their first unit on the power play and Dubois gets some of what’s left on an advantage when Hiller puts out the second unit. Neither has an assist in the series.

It didn’t look any better for Dubois when Carl Grundstrom had two shots in his 4:52 of playing time. And the underlying metrics make him look worse. Per Natural Stat Trick, Dubois has a team-low CF% of 42.86 over the first three games and is in the red with scoring chances (27-14) and high-danger chances (14-5) during five-on-five play. That’s where the bulk of his ice time is at.

“They’ve had some different looks at different times,” Kings coach Jim Hiller said Saturday. “I know PL got the one up in Edmonton. Kevin got us up 4-3 and then they came back. We haven’t had a lot of guys do a lot of scoring I guess you would say. Kempe has scored relatively consistently. As those players who are higher-profile offensive players, for sure they need to get more done. But they can’t do it at the risk of letting the puck go the other way and giving Edmonton a chance to put one in the back of our net.

“It’s a tough balance. It’s the playoffs. You have to play a two-way game and when you get your opportunities, you have to score. Would we like more from them so far? Yeah. But we’re three games in. There’s lots left.”

At least, Fiala has a strong regular season that included a big second half to fall back on. The winger finished second behind Kempe on a balanced Kings club with 29 goals and 73 points. If anything, the Swiss forward’s struggles have been more apparent on a power play that’s 0-for-10 in the series after he led Los Angeles with 11 man-advantage goals.

Dubois hasn’t been good in L.A. He didn’t miss a game but wasn’t a factor in many of them, finishing with 16 goals and 40 points — totals well off his usual 82-game average. Before he asked for a trade from Winnipeg, Dubois had consecutive seasons of 28 goals and 60 points and 27 goals and 63 points. The talent is in there but like in Winnipeg and Columbus before there, L.A. hasn’t gotten the most out of him after Gabriel Vilardi, Alex Iafallo and Rasmus Kupari were sent to the Jets.

I spoke with Dubois before Game 3 about finding chemistry with Fiala and how they can exploit what should be a theoretical advantage. It’s a topic that Hiller got into between Games 1 and 2 in Edmonton. “That should be the strength when you look at it, right?” he said. “If that line is together, that line has to score.”

Kempe isn’t the only one who rotated in with them. Quinton Byfield and Alex Laferriere have traded off, with Byfield getting quite a few of the extra shifts over the first three games. But it’s supposed to be Dubois or Fiala that drives the third grouping.

“All three of us kind of play different styles so I think if we can all get on the same page of how we should play then we become a dangerous line,” Dubois said. “You think of good lines around the league, it’s not always the same player times three. It’s the same style of play times three. One guy can shoot more, maybe one guy passes more. But they see the game the same way. They begin the same way and then they just play fast. They play without thinking. I think if we can get to that point, we can be a really good line.

“We’ve had some shifts where it feels good and then we’ve had some shifts where I think we can be more on the same page. I think if we can get there, we can be really dangerous.”

To even the series with a Game 4 win, the Kings must get their power play going and not allow Edmonton to gorge on their penalty kill as it has with three goals in each of its two blowout victories. Having their best players deliver as they did in Game 2 will go a long way toward pushing the Oilers as they did in 2022 and 2023. Working with a lead and having a strong forecheck in the offensive zone increases the chances of forcing turnovers. At times, McDavid and Co. have diced up their normally stingy 1-3-1 system.

The big change Hiller will weigh is sticking with Talbot or turning to David Rittich. Rittich hasn’t played since April 13 when he stopped 28 shots in a 3-1 win over Anaheim. But the 31-year-old backup has had a strong season with the Kings after starting out in the minors as their No. 3 goalie. He had a 13-6-3/2.15/.921 line in 22 starts and had three shutouts.

One of those zeroes was tossed against the Oilers on Feb. 10 in Hiller’s debut after he was promoted to interim coach following the firing of Todd McLellan. Talbot has given up 16 goals in the three games and the Kings being down in the series isn’t all his doing. But it could be time to summon Rittich and see if he can deliver some Big Save Dave magic.

“There’s always consideration,” Hiller said. “There’s consideration every game. We go through everything. David did play good in that game. We know that. But we knew that going into the series. It’s the same thing. We consider everything every night.”

The Kings need to find an edge wherever possible. Dubois was supposed to provide that. He’s been playing with Fiala and hasn’t been saddled with low-scoring grinders. It says something when his signature moment came in the season’s third game when he scored in his return to Winnipeg.

The playoffs are where he could begin to win back those who hoped he could make a difference. The third line can swing a matchup in their direction. That’s been the idea from when they started putting lineups together in October.

“We have to be,” Dubois said. “It can’t be two shifts on, two shifts off. We have to find that consistency. Especially in these playoffs. It’s about building momentum. It’s about feeling good shift after shift. About setting your next line up with an advantage. I think we have to find that balance that we can all agree on. Once we do that, we can be a really hard line to play against.”

Time’s ticking. More than ever now, the Kings need him to be who they thought he could be. Foremost among them are Blake and Robitaille.
 

Kings4OT

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Did PLG and Fiala ever play together during the regular season? Fiala is known for disappearing in the PO his whole career. I know you all think im some sort of a PLG apologist but the fact is i can list you many things wrong with him....weak on his skates, coughs up the puck easy, kind of weak for a bigger guy, cant make a play by himself, has very little endurance per shift.....i can go on....but this is nothing new, not one of the listed items and more are somehow just now a thing.

Yes his 40pts is low, but its actually decent for 3rd line C across the NHL. The old Kings dont use lines like that is BS really, when theres a PP you can clearly see what lines are there to start.....its never Laferriere/PLG/WhoEverIsNextWaiverGuy.
The article lies, his entire LA career has been with mostly low or no skill guys, when he was bumped up he started getting a few more points.

The only time hes had any success is when he is with snipers and playmakers unfortunately for us. He does have a knack to draw a penalty and somehow wins board battles more than not and even if its not saying much that line seemed to produce the most pressure g3. Is he worth 8.5, fuck no...never has been. But as i keep saying LA better put him in positions to be successful because we got 8 freaking years to figure it out of find a nother Blake to take him.
 

Kings4OT

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Whats killing LA is special teams 100%. The PK just stands there watching Oilers move into position for the same 3 plays. Im positive the only time they looked good was when they where agressive, just do that....make them make the super plays take away the shit they been doing for 3 series now.

Then watch the PP, they get a guy around the net, hes never ready for a pass/shot, his stick will be waste high and he wont be paying attention to the play/puck. They make a whole lot of passes back and forth but mainly to guys just standing there.....have a few more set plays, its frustrating when the Oil are agressive and somehow look like they have more guys on the ice than the Kings PP does
 
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Just getting around to this article. I saw it pop up on my feed but hadn't looked into it yet.

I mean, this is all nothing new to us who have watched all year. Nice to see the spotlight on the situation now, because this whole thing obviously isn't working.

Article isn't wrong. Kings don't have a single PP goal in the series, and Edmonton is firing off at their usual 50% rate. Doesn't take much more beyond that honestly. Article correctly says PLD-Fiala line should be dominating the Corey Perry line, but they aren't, which is extra embarrassing.

So yeah.... I think on principal you need to get away from Blake and maybe even Robitaille at this point. As far as making the next moves, these big contracts are going to be really tough to get away from, and I am not totally sure how to navigate this going forward.

PLD as a player should be embarrassed honestly. You would think pride would take over at some point and he'd just park himself in front of the net, or go lay a bunch of guys out. Try to get his fingerprints on a game. But he honestly doesn't seem like he gives a shit. Reminds me of Alexander Frolov. Like you wonder if the dude even likes hockey. He just happens to have the talent enough to make it work and get paid for it. And found Rob Blake to absolutely swindle.
 

PuckinUgly57

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Frolov is an interesting comparison, lot of similarities. Big guys, skilled, not that great of skaters but can shield the puck and win board battles...when engaged. But even Frolov scored 30+ goals once and that was when he was consistently LW1.

I'm not making excuses for the guy, his effort has dragged just as much as his crappy linemates in general have. But he has yet to make his presence felt, and Wednesday is probably it.

Otherwise it's going to be a long 8 years. I don't think I've ever seen a GM make a trade like this blow up so badly.
 

PuckinUgly57

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Buyout starts on June 15 or 48 hours after the Cup, I believe his birthday is June 24. There literally is no window so a decision would have to be made now. But as Bowlby said today, they aren't buying him out.

Personally I think he wanted to, but if he did he looks extremely bad, even worse than he already looks.

Now a year from now and we see the same thing, I think a buyout is on the table. Blake is done, and no I do not see a contract extension, and he will be a new GMs headache.

Not now though, Bowlby needs to save face for arguably the worst trade in franchise history. Gotta salvage this guy, at least for 2024-25.
 

CaptHowdy00

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For all those disappointed with the Kings’ third straight exit from the NHL playoffs in the first round, Rob Blake, the team’s general manager, has a message: He feels your pain.

“Just a very difficult end to the season,” Blake said Monday in his first public comments since the Kings were eliminated from the postseason by the Edmonton Oilers last Wednesday. “A lot of disappointment, a lot of frustration, a lot of anger. I don’t think we performed at nearly the level we needed to to have success in the playoffs.”

As for what he intends to do about that, check back this summer. Because while Blake’s news conference was long on frustration and disappointment, it was short on the specific steps he plans to take to fix things.

Which isn’t to say he said nothing. He did say the team had no intention of buying out the last seven years of center Pierre-Luc Dubois’ $68-million contract. He also said the fate of interim coach Jim Hillerremained undetermined and that the long-term solution at goaltender “probably isn’t in place in this team right now.”

And though Blake has a strong core to build around — forwards Anze Kopitar, Kevin Fiala, Adrian Kempe, Phillip Danault and Trevor Moore along with defensemen Drew Doughty and Mikey Anderson, who are all under contract for at least two more seasons — the Kings have seven players set to become unrestricted free agents, among them defenseman Matt Roy, forward Trevor Lewis and goaltenders Cam Talbot and David Rittich.

“We still believe this group has made progress in a lot of different areas,” Blake said. “We have to find a way to get that to translate into the playoffs.”
(This part right here makes me think that he’s full of shit. Who’s this “we” he’s talking about? It’s HIM. As in the one who makes the personnel decisions. And since AEG is going to let him ride out the last year of his contract, I expect more of the same from him.)
How much time Blake, 54, a Hall of Fame defenseman whose No. 4 jerseys hangs from the rafters at Crypto.com Arena, has to make that happen is uncertain. He is entering the last season on his contract as general manager, having assumed the position in 2017, then signing a three-year extension as that deal was expiring. And while the Kings have made the playoffs four times during Blake’s tenure, they have not advanced beyond the first round.

It’s perhaps understandable that Blake has more questions than answers at this point since the Kings were expecting to be preparing for a second-round series with the Vancouver Canucks this week. Instead, they’re preparing for next season.

Blake said he planned to spend much of the next few weeks talking with players and staff, including Hiller, who was tasked with getting the team to the playoffs when he replaced Todd McLellan in early February. He did that, but whether that was enough for him to earn him the job full time, neither the general manager nor team president Luc Robitaille would say.

“Luc and I, some of the hockey staff, will meet with him and just go over the exact changes that he would feel would go into place before we get a decision,” said Blake, who declined to say how long that process would take.

One issue Blake conceded was certain to come up in those meetings with Hiller was the fate of the team’s 1-3-1 neutral-zone trap. The Kings have had success with that system, which uses three players to clog up the neutral zone and make it difficult for opponents to enter the offensive zone in control. But some players have complained the style of play has become too stale and predictable.

“We have to have a deep discussion on that for sure,” Blake said.

“When we talk a little bit about the systematic changes and different things that may be incorporated, we have to understand why the game didn’t translate into the playoffs. The team has had success, has gotten to playoffs. But by no means is that good enough.”

Regarding Dubois who, not counting the COVID-interrupted 2020-21 season, had career lows for goals (16) and assists (24) in his first season with the Kings, Blake said the solution lies with the team, not the player.

“We need to make him better,” Blake said. “He’s had a consistent performance over his career and deviated from that this year. So it’s up to us as a staff — coaches and management — to help him become more productive to us.”

As for the goaltender situation, the Kings have only one goalie (Aaron Dell, a 35-year-old backup with the Ontario Reign) with any NHL experience throughout the organization. Blake, however, is high on 23-year-old Erik Portillo, who has played well for the Reign, the Kings’ AHL affiliate.
“We don’t have as a long-term solution other than we have a young player that has played very well in Ontario,” he said. “It takes time for that position.”

(Fire him and fire Blake now. Don’t let him ride out his contract to make for yet another miserable season. More importantly, when the new GM takes over, he or she may want to put their own prints on the team. So whomever Blake hires as HC, will probably only hold their job for a season or two before being replaced. And what player is going want to sign in a place that has so much instability.
If AEG kicks Blake to the curb now, the new GM can start by hiring the new coach, and implementing a new system.
And finally, yes Lucky has to go too.
Whomever, AEG hires as the new GM and President, these people need to be from outside the organization. No buddies, friends, cousins, uncles of any player or other member of the Kings.)
 

CaptHowdy00

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Personally I think he wanted to, but if he did he looks extremely bad, even worse than he already looks.
If you and I know this, than I’m sure smart people at AEG know this too. And should fire him for this reason alone. The asshole is putting himself before the team AGAIN.
 

Fox4Kings

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Read and interesting trade rumor, Dubois for Kuemper. Would you do it? I don't think I would. Kuemper was garbage last year but maybe battling something. It would free up a little cash but I think you roll the dice on another year of Dubois.
 

PuckinUgly57

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Read and interesting trade rumor, Dubois for Kuemper. Would you do it? I don't think I would. Kuemper was garbage last year but maybe battling something. It would free up a little cash but I think you roll the dice on another year of Dubois.

Saw that online, I wouldn't do it. PLD is a straight up redemption project at this point and I think trading for Kuemper would require additional assets going the other way which frankly Blake should never be allowed to do again.

He may be a quick fix but still leaves goaltending up in the air long term. Portillo should get some spot duty next season to see what being an NHL player is like, and my recommendation earlier is let Talbot loose, keep Rittich and see what serviceable, cheap back up can be had. Then address a long term solution in net for 2025-26.

Maybe Bowlby can take Quick out to dinner or something, mend some fences and see if he'd like to be traded back to LA...

=)~~

Speaking of Quick, you know damn well he's got a SEG watching how badly LA shit the bed and his Rags are just refusing to lose. Joke's on you Bowlby, revenge is a dish best served cold.
 

Kings4OT

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Personally I would move PLG For almost Any similar or less contract, As long as it was at least 2 years minimum less term. While I have defended him
And complained about them not trying to get him going And played him with mostly scrubs...... I also know some of his problems are never going to go away and he will never be an 8.5 dollar player. So if we can get out from under that More quickly than eight years, I would rather start setting up the roster at cap for a correct rebuild
 

PuckinUgly57

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The issue is he has extremely low trade value right now, even if dollars were somewhat equal with whoever/whatever would be coming back. That's where the additional assets would come in and you know for sure a first would be involved that Bowlby would if course gladly give up because he's Blake and thinks it's some badge of honor getting bent over on deals.

The way the farm system has been gutted or a disappointment, I don't think the Kings can afford to give up more assets whether that be high picks or prospects. Crazy for example how a year ago they had arguably the best RHD depth in the league and methodically that was destroyed with moves to correct worse moves (Walker for example, he looks great as a Lanche). Even more depth would be lost trying to make a trade for PLD.

Just have to ride him out and hope he is pissed, motivated and eager to prove everyone wrong. He is the joke of the NHL and an extremely bad look for LA, which is why I said it's better to keep him than trade him.

Blake has massive egg on his face and the only way that would be fixed is if PLD has a much better season in 2024-25. I mean I don't think that's a high bar at all all things considered...
 
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Not sure where to put this but was listening to Locked on LA Kings and Eddie Garcia mentioned how Eric Portillo is crushing it right now for Ontario Reign in playoffs. He said something like .970 save percentage through 5-6 playoff games. He said maybe premature but he was crushing his last years at Michigan too. He came over from Sabres pretty close after Quick was dealt.

Anyway, Eddie Garcia was saying he might be worth a look for LA as an internal upgrade at goalie. Dude is already 25, so not as young as just tossing in a 19-20 year old.
 

PuckinUgly57

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Reeks of Petersen. Older guy, Sabres prospect, killer college career too. We all know what happened.

Obviously LA doesn't have a Quick in the system but I do believe Portillo will get a look this year in LA so we will know what he may be capable of.

My only concern would be after 18 minutes of play Bowlby is drafting a 4 year/$24 million deal.
 
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